IIt's been eight years since Robyn last released an album. This, of course, is not considered the best practice in pop music, a world in which periods of attention are short and memories even shorter: get away too much and, on your return, you will find a young simulator stationed in space what you thought was reserved you.
But Robyn established some time ago that the normal rules do not apply to her. Their last album was opened with a song called "No jodas, tell me what to do". And in addition, he has achieved the curious trick of appearing present in pop even when absent. A recent profile of The Guardian listed a series of successes that exerted their influence in recent years: songs by Ariana Grande, Lorde, Taylor Swift and Rihanna. In 2016, the album's biggest album Body Talk, Dancing On My Own, returned to the charts, although in a version that unwittingly demonstrated the gap between what its author does and the most basic practitioners of pop. The cover of Calum Scott eliminated the emotional complexity of the original, a very realistic mixture of desperation, iron determination and euphoria, in favor of the sad emotions of a piano-at-a-piano.
But the fans who joined the #releasehoney hashtag campaign with the hope that Robyn was about to reappear on the charts – and show the most basic practitioners of pop how it was done with an unmistakable bomber to match to Dancing on My Own – they were disappointed. "No, you're not going to get what you need," begins Honey's title song, announcing the arrival of what appears to be Scandipop's Blood on the Tracks equivalent. If you want a comparison more geographically adjacent, a modern equivalent of the songs in which Abba selected their failed relationships with painful details. The track is ostensibly languid and sexy, but below the surface it stings with restlessness. The line of low talk without rest, the sounds of the synthesizer corrode in noise and never resolves in the great chorus that you expect. The general effect is to add a feeling of despair to the letters that come from here to there: you have the feeling that whoever is directed has decided that they are not interested, and the protagonist of the song knows it.
Sets the tone for an album that is never mean to the melodies, but in which the themes of anguish and discouragement have seeped into the sonic fabric of the songs. "There is no resolution," Robyn sings about Human Being, and could be describing the music around her. Their voices are cut adrift in the midst of drones that are tuned; a rhythm that could come from an old 80's freestyle track continues to fail and keep quiet, and there is a curious and lonely sound somewhere between the touch of an electric guitar and an industrial sound. In Baby Forgive Me, her voice is obsessed by a sinister electronic shadow and out of tune. Somewhere in the distance is the dull sound of an applauding audience: it's as if they had been excluded.
The voice continues to implore on the next track, Send to Robyn Immediately, in which the backrest shifts brilliantly to the unmistakable riff of Lil Louis's house, French Kiss, French kiss, and his heavy breathing eroticism was replaced by his anguished I beg. The closer the album approaches the smile, the closer is Ever Again, a subject covered with the fingerprints of collaborator Joseph Mount of Metronomy. His warm pop tones of the 80s and his sweet and beautiful melody have a lyrics about how to survive, closing emotionally.
The centerpiece of Honey may be because it's in the music, a track that feels like the reverse image of Dancing on My Own, in which the music does not offer any sense of escape or release: "I came back in that moment and it gives me I want to cry, "she sings. The melody has the potential to feel anemic, but it does not, because the sound is strangely fractured. The signifiers of euphoria (disco strings, electronic flashes that cause tingling, a beautiful synth motif that is not a million miles from the Forbidden Colors of Ryuichi Sakamoto) never connect with each other: they are scattered all over the track and They feel strangely alone.
This track is also, pleasantly, the negative image of Scott's version of Dancing on My Own, a song that implied that the true gravity and impact of a song can only be truly revealed if you interpret it in the traditional and authentic style. "of the singers and composers. But, like the rest of Honey, because it's in music, it's a track where gravity and impact come from both the way he manipulates the sound palette of modern pop and the lyrics or melody. If the album ends up exercising the kind of influence on the Top 40 that made its previous releases, it seems questionable: it feels too opaque and attractive for the interior. However, as evidence of a unique artist pursuing a personal vision in a world full of commonplaces, Honey is perfect.
This week Alexis listened.
Not loved – when a woman is around
From the soundtrack to Killing Eve, a fantastic tribute to French pop of the 60s, was heard with the characteristic darkness of producer David Holmes.